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Schaub, D. (2008). Michel Deville's La Lectrice: Honouring or Deriding Freud's Theories through Bibliotherapy?. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 89(6):1237-1250.

(2008). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 89(6):1237-1250

Michel Deville's La Lectrice: Honouring or Deriding Freud's Theories through Bibliotherapy?

Danielle Schaub

Who has ever heard of an avid reader placing an advertisement in the papers to offer the services of her voice to the community? Imagination runs wild at the thought of potential responses to such an offer. The male agent from an advertising agency in Michel Deville's film La lectrice (1988) certainly echoes societal doubts, if not disapproval, at such a request from a young assertive woman by the name of Marie. Based on Raymond Jean's satirical and ironic book by the same title (1986) as well as on some of the stories he included in Un fantasme de Bella et autres récits (1983), the film gives free rein to a weird assortment of customers who require Marie's vocal expertise. Deville frames the novel's narrative within another narrative, in which Constance reads the novel aloud to her partner Jean while in bed. Except for short returns to the frame narrative, the film thereafter follows the development of Marie's clientele and her bibliotherapeutic approach during her house-calls. Her main clients chronologically include an adolescent in a wheelchair keen on erotically-charged texts, an ageing Hungarian countess fixated on her past love life, the countess's pretty young companion troubled by spider-bites on her legs, a 6 year-old girl abandoned to her own devices by a self-absorbed mother, a businessman affected by sexual deprivation after separating from his wife and a retired judge obsessed with sadistic fantasies. The action focuses essentially on the reading sessions Marie conducts, in which she indirectly addresses the psychological trouble of her clients.

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